Module Details

The information contained in this module specification was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change, either during the session because of unforeseen circumstances, or following review of the module at the end of the session. Queries about the module should be directed to the member of staff with responsibility for the module.
Code CHEM492
Coordinator Prof SJ Higgins
Year CATS Level Semester CATS Value
Session 2016-17 Level 7 FHEQ Second Semester 7.5

Pre-requisites before taking this module (or general academic requirements):

Either completion of year 3 of an MChem programme or BSc (Hons) in Chemistry.  


The aims of the module are:

1. To show students how semiconducting organic molecules and materials can be designed and synthesised for use in a wide range of electronic devices, such as organic light-emitting diodes, thin film transistors, photovoltaic devices and sensors.

2. To introduce the students to current topics of interest in the field of molecular electronics, the science of incorporating single molecules into electrical circuits.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the module, students should:

Be familiar with important structure-property relationships in pi-conjugated materials, and how these relate to their uses as organic semiconductors in different electronic devices.

Be aware of synthetic routes to the materials, and how these can limit or control their properties.

Be familiar with important parameters used to assess the performance of various organic electronic devices, such as OLEDs, OTFTs and OPVDs.

Be aware of current and possible future industrial applications of this new technology.

Be aware of concepts underlying experiments to determine the electrical properties of single molecules, and of the significance of these measurem ents.

Be able to read and understand review papers from the literature in these areas.

Teaching and Learning Strategies

Lecture -

Tutorial -


Introduction and background

  • Introduction to the course. References and where to find them. Structure of the course - use of handouts.

Organic semiconducting molecules and materials: 1. Polythiophene, a transistor material

  • Discovery and significance of ''conducting polymers'': polyacetylene, and the 2000 Nobel prize in Chemistry.
  • Polythiophenes and polypyrroles - electrodeposition and oxidation as modes of synthesis.
  • More practical materials: how to make soluble polythiophenes.
  • Polythiophenes for organic thin film transistors: synthesis, structural control, ordering in materials, testing and improving organic transistors. Problems: purity and oxygen sensitivity. Attempts to address these.
  • Control of bandgap (and hence, colour) in conjugated polymers, exemplified using polythiophene derivatives: PEDOTs and polybenzo[c]thiophenes; donor-acceptor polymers. Electrochromism.

2. Polyfluorenes and polyphenylenevinylenes: Light-emitting polymer diodes

  • History of polymer light-emitting diodes
  • PPV and ''precursor'' routes to conjugated polymers.
  • Suzuki coupling as a route to polyfluorenes. Colour (bandgap) control in these materials.
  • Current state of the art. Display devices using OLEDs. Commercial products using this technology.

3. Organic photovoltaics

  • How an organic photovoltaic device works, and why it''s different from a silicon device.
  • Polythiophenes and C60.
  • C nanotubes and CdS nanorods in conjugated polymers.
  • Possible consequences for cheap, reliable OPVDs.

Molecular electronics

  • History: the Aviram-Ratner device.
  • Supramolecular chemistry and molecular electronics.
  • ''Real'' molecular electronics": wiring molecules into a circuit, one molecule at a time.
  • How does charge get through a molecule?
  • Characteristics of devices, and issues with molecular electronics.

Recommended Texts

Reading lists are managed at Click here to access the reading lists for this module.
Explanation of Reading List:

Teaching Schedule

  Lectures Seminars Tutorials Lab Practicals Fieldwork Placement Other TOTAL
Study Hours 16


Timetable (if known)              
Private Study 57


EXAM Duration Timing
% of
Penalty for late
Unseen Written Exam  2 hours  100  Yes  Standard UoL penalty applies  Assessment 1 Notes (applying to all assessments) Written Exam. Both problem solving questions and essay questions will be set in the examination. There will be some element of choice. August resit for PGT students if applicable. Integrated Master's students resit at the next normal opportunity.  
CONTINUOUS Duration Timing
% of
Penalty for late